Singapore

Sinda volunteers help shine up homes ahead of Deepavali next month

More than 50 volunteers from the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) and Young Sikh Association fanned out across the island before midday yesterday, armed with assorted cleaning equipment.

Their mission under a new initiative known as Project Shine: help clean the homes of vulnerable members of the Indian community, ahead of Deepavali on Nov 14.

They scrubbed windows, cleaned bathrooms and helped beneficiaries with any concerns they had.

At one rental unit in Bukit Merah, for example, volunteers helped Madam Jayakodi, 73, remove and dispose of a wall fan.

Speaking in Tamil, Madam Jayakodi told The Straits Times through a translator that she usually does the cleaning herself ahead of the festive season each year.

"I'm happy that there are people coming to do it this year because it takes the load off."

Project Shine is part of Sinda's Project Give campaign, which is hosted by the self-help group every year around Deepavali to encourage the spirit of giving back to society.

But amid the pandemic, Sinda decided to introduce more community-centric programmes and ground-up initiatives, including Project Shine.

Speaking to ST on the sidelines of the clean-up in Bukit Merah, Sinda chief executive Anbarasu Rajendran said Project Give was started many years ago, with fund raising being a key component. "But along the way, it has evolved, and we are looking (to cultivate) a collective social belonging in the Indian community."

This includes getting the young people involved.

One volunteer from the Young Sikh Association is Mr Gurnihal Singh, 24, a Nanyang Technological University undergraduate.

He decided to volunteer for Project Shine to help members of the community who are often overlooked.

"Not only do we have Covid-19, but dengue cases are also on the rise.

"Many beneficiaries do take the effort to clean their houses, but there may be some nooks and crannies they are unable to reach," he said.

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